Gayatri Krishnamurthy, Leadership Coach

Gayatri Krishnamurthy, Leadership Coach

Gayatri, an alumnus of XLRI Business School, Jamshedpur has over 30 years of experience in Human Resources and organisation consulting. She has been a freelance consultant for more than 2 decades and has over 20 years of experience in Assessments. Her last corporate role was that of a Centre head for the Bangalore centre of Mafoi management Consultants (Now known as Randstad).

She is a panellist with reputed global consultants like Mercer and Korn ferry and has worked on assignments with leading MNCs, Navratna PSUs, large banks and Insurance companies and leading Indian IT companies. She is certified in Hogan assessments as well as advanced interpretation and has used it extensively. Gayatri is qualified and accredited as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) by International Coach Federation (ICF). The level of executives coached has been from senior managers to profit centre heads. She has experience in working with groups and teams and has trained in Systemic Coaching and has some recent experience in it.

Gayatri has clients ranging from CEOs, BU heads to people in transition from a functional
lead to a general managerial role. Her clients include Madura Coats, Times Internet Limited
Landmark Group, Amararaja Batteries, Texas Instruments, Wipro, Spire Technologies to
name a few. She has been a facilitator in many developmental programs, most of which are designed from scratch. She is an external panellist for ICCs in some organisations and facilitated the implementation of the POSH act in policy formulation, top management awareness and training for ICC members.

In this Interview, Gayatri shares her views on the impact of feedback in an organization:

What is your view on documenting/recording the feedback process as a part of an organization?

I believe that the feedback process should be an organic one and asking for extensive documentation/ recording could be a barrier. In principle, conversations should not be recorded or given to any third party not directly involved in the conversation. That being said, a short record of the date and action items for the future would be helpful.

The only exception perhaps would be if the documentation is a part of a legal/departmental disciplinary process not for development.

What are the key identification points for good or effective feedback and bad or ineffective feedback?

A couple of questions to be asked about the quality of feedback would be:

  1. Was it timely?
  2. Was it data-based and balanced? Was there agreement on the facts?
  3. Was the data shared in an exploratory manner? Was there listening after the ask?
  4. Was there a way forward to maintain the positives and work on improvements?
  5. Was it focused on the behaviour or action as opposed to the individual?

Effective feedback is focused on the actions and behaviours manifested at work or on a particular task rather than a judgment of the individual. The individual has to be respected and valued, while data is shared in an exploratory manner with an acknowledgement of what went right and a focus on what can be done better in the future.

What are some ways to ensure that post feedback, negative feelings like vulnerability or frustration do not set in among the givers and receivers of feedback, in an organization?

Make feedback a continuous process which is two way and where there is a clear focus on facts and data and is objective. There must be transparency on the objectives and the feedback giver must do it with a positive intent to improve. The conversations must be evidence-based. In the absence of agreed-upon facts, further observation points must be set up and feedback taken from other critical stakeholders on agreed-upon behaviours. If an element of self-assessment can be built into the process, the discussions would be productive. If this can start with the top management sharing their vulnerabilities, negative feedback will be seen as an important input for development instead of an indictment of a person.

What are some ways that you think we can ensure that past bias does not impact the quality of feedback?

The best way is to have data. Acknowledge the bias and be extra careful about it. Reference only to Relevant facts that are checked in with the individual for acceptance. Using a Behavioural Events approach where the feedback giver and receiver share examples or evidence in support of their observations, is a highly effective tool.

How should negative/critical feedback be approached in an organization? Any best practices that you would like to share.

Having a culture of openness, trust and authenticity is the foundation for people to accept feedback. Training managers and employees on concepts and practices for effective feedback like Structured Behavioural Interviews or Non-Violence Communication and Appreciative Inquiry would be helpful. A coaching style of management where the focus is on empowering the receiver to take ownership and move forward in an empowered manner is a practice I highly recommend.

Seniors need to lead by example and effective feedback-giving behaviours by surveys and made part of the expected standards of leadership behaviours.

What are the key questions that an organization must ask its employees to get honest feedback about itself?

  1. Are people giving suggestions for improvement?
  2. Are they acknowledging the feedback?
  3. Is there any perception of retaliation? (Is confidentiality maintained?)
  4. Are there tell-tale signs in the form of being called to Boss’s cabin etc? which may be misinterpreted by the onlookers?
  5. Is the feedback timely and given at the earliest sign of negative performance?

The one crucial question is “Are there signs of any change due to previously given  feedback?”